Rural Communities Left Behind in Coronavirus Response Says O’Halleran

April 20, 2020
Press Release

VILLAGE OF OAK CREEK—Friday, Congressman Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01) sent a letter to Congressional leadership urging them to amend a funding formula for the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG) established under the CARES Act that leaves many rural communities left wanting.

“Although the CARES Act built on the CDBG program by providing an additional $5 billion in much needed funding for state and local governments, initial funding did not reach 13 of Arizona’s 15 counties,” wrote O’Halleran. “Arizona’s rural counties provide much needed services to their communities and all are facing greatly reduced revenues as a result of this ongoing public health crisis. In future COVID-19 related legislative packages, Congress must adjust the funding formula to ensure that all counties receive direct federal assistance.”

View the full letter, HERE.

Last week, O’Halleran also joined a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers on a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue urging the agency to establish a “Rural COVID-19 Task Force.” The task force would help to identify rural challenges, develop strategies and policy recommendations, assemble a guide of available federal programs and resources, consult with the Department and Congressional Committees, and provide oversight on the distribution of funding. 

“People living in rural America are more likely to be uninsured, advanced in age, and have preexisting medical conditions,” the lawmakers wrote. “Rural hospitals and health systems often have fewer ICU beds and resources to handle an increased demand on our health care infrastructure during a pandemic.”

View that letter, HERE.